By: Daniel Massa – Staff Writer
Sunday’s series finale provided myriad chances for the University of Dayton baseball team to capitalize on scoring opportunities and secure its first home and Atlantic 10 Conference win of the season.
The Flyers (6-15, 0-3 in the A-10) capitalized on many chances to score runs, as they tallied eight on the board, but were not able to get the win as they fell 10-8 to the University of Massachusetts in 12 innings.
The win gave the Minutemen (3-5, 3-0) their third victory in a row and a sweep of the weekend series. They defeated the Flyers 5-0 Friday and 11-3 Saturday for their first two wins of the season.
For the Flyers it marks the second straight weekend they were swept at home, as they lost three in a row last weekend to Ball State University at Time Warner Cable Stadium.
“Our problem today was obviously our pitching, except I thought Nick Gobert did a good job keeping us in the game,” head coach Tony Vittorio said after the game.
Gobert, a sophomore right-hander, came in on relief of junior starting pitcher Bradley Horn, with two outs in the fourth inning. Horn gave up six hits and five runs—just one earned run—and struck out two over his 3 2/3 innings.
Gobert lasted all the way through the 10th inning, recording 6 1/3 innings pitched, six hits, three runs (two earned), five strikeouts and two walks.
The Minutemen got on the board first in the second inning when third baseman Paul Yanakopulos scored from third on an error by Flyer second baseman Sergio Plasencia. UMass scored first in each of the series’ three games this weekend.
The Flyers took a 2-1 lead off UMass starter Andrew Grant in the bottom of the third. Junior outfielder Robbie Doring was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, and consecutive walks to Plasencia and redshirt senior centerfielder Alex Harris loaded the bases for UD.
Senior first baseman A.J. Ryan squeezed a grounder past the Minutemen’s shortstop Vinny Scifo, scoring Doring. Junior designated hitter Aaron Huesman hit into a fielder’s choice on which Plasencia scored.
UMass regained control of the game after that, scoring in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, including the four runs in the fourth that ran Horn out of the game. The Minutemen eventually built a 7-2 lead by the middle of the sixth inning.
The Flyers would not go away quietly, though, as they got one run back in the sixth when redshirt senior Zach Schira scored on a Matt Poland groundout. The sophomore catcher went 2-6 on the day, one of four Flyers with multiple hits.
Down 7-3 in the bottom of the eighth inning, Dayton rallied with their patience at the plate. UMass reliever Tommy McDonald walked lea off hitter redshirt sophomore Cale Dineen and then got Poland to fly out to right. McDonald did not record another out, however, as he walked redshirt senior Greg Rhude and gave up a single to Doring that loaded the bases.
McDonald then walked Plasencia to drive in Dineen in for the Flyers fourth run. McDonald was lifted for reliever Kevin Lacy, who promptly walked Harris to bring Rhude in to score.
With the Flyers trailing 7-5, a lack of composure cost UMass the lead. With the bases still loaded, Ryan hit a slow roller to Scifo, who went to second base to get the force out on Harris and try to turn the double play. Ryan hustled down the first base line and was safe in the umpire’s eyes to the disbelief of Minutemen first baseman Hunter Carey.
Carey was running to the dugout thinking he had gotten the third out when he heard the safe call and immediately turned around and looked at the first base umpire. Doring was running from third and had already scored on the fielder’s choice. Plasencia noticed the play was still live as Carey stood with his hands on his head and the ball still in his glove. Plasencia ran home unimpeded and without a throw from Casey, who didn’t realize what was happening until it was too late, tying the game at seven.
The game went to extra innings with the same score. UMass scored one run in the top of the 10th, only to be countered by the Flyers in the bottom of the inning when Plasencia lined an RBI single to centerfield to score Doring.
The 11th inning was scoreless for both teams, and the Minutemen loaded the bases in the top of the 12th against freshman reliever Tyson Schnitkey. Schnitkey, who ended up the losing pitcher for the game, then surrendered a two-RBI single to Bryce Maher. That gave the Minutemen a 10-8 lead, which they would hold onto to win the game in twelve innings. The Flyers left two runners on base in the bottom half of the 12th.
Vittorio is looking forward to his team coming up with some more clutch at-bats when they go on the road this week.
“When the lights are shining, we need guys to come through,” he said.
Dayton plays one game at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne on Thursday before heading to Philadelphia for a three-game conference series against La Salle University over the weekend.